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Arkansas’s voting crisis: Concerns raised by low registration and turnout lead to calls for solutions



Little Rock, Arkansas – Arkansas has the lowest rates of voter registration and turnout in national elections, according to the 2023 Arkansas Health Index.

According to a National Conference of Citizenship research, 54% of Arkansas’s eligible voters cast ballots in 2020, compared to 66% of voters nationwide.

Low voter participation can be attributed to two issues, according to Chul Park Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the study’s lead author.

“Arkansas expressed a very low level of public trust in the federal government,” Park said. “We identified barriers to voting including the long wait time at the polling stations[and] lack of transportation.”

Park pointed out that a few key recommendations, such as increased government effort to inform and involve its people, might assist spur involvement in the long run.

“[The first is] providing more information, better information to citizens,” Park said. “The second, provide them more opportunity for them to share and provide their input to the government.”
According to Park, making voter registration simpler by offering online or smartphone app registration is another suggestion.

According to Pulaski County resident Uvita Scott, there is still a lot of energy among voters.

Scott highlighted her motivation for voting, stating that she has been doing so since she was eighteen.

“Well, I’m African American so it started way back when they first started allowing us to vote, and we have the opportunity now to go vote,” Scott said. “It’s just a needed necessity to get out there and vote for whoever you think is going to be the best choice.”

Recently, Scott said, potential candidates paid her a visit, which she said further encouraged her to run.

“That made- that makes- a difference,” Scott said. “It lets us know that these people want to be in office and if they have strict measures by what they’re doing, then we need to give them a chance.”

Another citizen of Pulaski County, Andrew Ballard, stated that voting gives him a chance to express his opinions.

Ballard commented on the state’s lack of voter participation, “Maybe people feel disenfranchised, or they feel their vote does not matter,” he said. “You have to believe the election is fair and that you have to trust in the system.”

Ballard stated that “restoring civics in schools” was one idea he thought could encourage more people to vote.

The study found that student voter engagement increased between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, despite the state’s low voter turnout.

In actuality, the percentage of 18 to 21-year-olds who vote rose from 41% in 2016 to 57% in 2020.

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